The basics of surfing

1. Checking the spot

Before surfing observe the spot: where and how the waves break, if they are coming in sets or patterns, where the "taking-off" area and also the channel is for getting back out to the sets. Even if you've surfed a spot before, the ocean is always changing. So it’s always a good idea to spend a few minutes on the beach and map out a general surf plan.

Rip currents can be highly dangerous, so only get in if you're sure you know how it works.


2. Preparation for surfing

While you are checking the spot, warm up and stretch the body. Paddling out is a real body workout, so pay closest attention to your arms, shoulders and back. Attach your leash to the ankle of your back foot. The leash is an important safeguard in the ocean, keeping board near you even when you are smashed by the wave.

3. Paddling to the line-up

When you go into the water be aware of shore break. Shore break occurs when the waves crash in shallow water close to the shoreline. Start paddle and continue to keep in your mind the mental map of the spot. You should know the best route out to the breaks, hopefully avoiding any crashing waves that could knock you off your board.

The small waves you saw from the beach seem huge from the water.

It takes some time to get used to the feeling of approaching a wave, but once you learn the best techniques for beating them, you feel a lot more comfortable going for it. As you are paddling out be very mindful of the other surfers. If somebody catches a wave, he has the right of way. This means that you must clear the way for the rider.

4. Reaching the line-up

When the breaking waves are over, the water becomes still and you finally have the opportunity to take a rest. This area is the waiting zone, where you sit back and watch the waves come in. Now you need to find the right take-off spot. Watch a few sets roll in and note where the curl of the wave begins.

5. Catching a wave

The most important thing when you catch a wave is timing. The experienced surfers are able to predict how big an oncoming wave is and where it will begin to break. When you see a wave rolling in, you should face the nose of your board toward shore and lie down, ready to paddle.

Remember, the person closest to the pick of the wave gets the priority.

The way you paddle for a wave will depend on the size of your surfboard. It's easier to catch a wave with a longer board, because the wave has more surface to grab and move. Shorter boards usually require more paddling to get you going fast enough to catch the wave.

6. Standing up

Practicing this move on the beach is the best way to prepare for the challenge of standing up in the water. 

Your knees should be bent, your body balanced, and your eyes looking at the big picture – not the end of your board.

7. Turning the board

So you're balanced and comfy on your board, riding through the whitewash (first) or maybe down a wave's face (later). Now it's time to work on turning and maneuvering your board. Apply pressure to the back of the board as you lean slightly with the carve. Your hips, head and torso should remain fairly upright, while you use your lower body to steer the board.

Surfing is all about being a part of the environment. So don’t forget to take the time to smell the ocean.